Getting the Right Training for PA School Bus Drivers

PA school bus drivers have only one task on their minds – to safely transport students to and from school. The safety of the schoolchildren is of utmost importance. That’s why school bus drivers take their duties quite seriously. And it also explains the plethora of requirements and a battery of tests and training to ensure that candidates are qualified for the job.

Many school bus transportation companies, agents, and testing centers offer school bus training programs to aspirants. They consider proper training in a real-life situation as the only way to ensure that candidates are ready for the rewards and challenges of school bus driving.

If you aspire to become a school bus driver but don’t have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) yet, you must earn it with a school bus endorsement by undergoing CDL school bus training and testing.

Those who aspire to become a school bus driver in Pennsylvania can take their CDL skills test at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) driver license center or any third-party CDL tester and school bus training facility accredited by PennDOT.

To become qualified for the training, you must:

  • Be least 18 years old and above (some testing centers require applicants to be at least 21).
  • Be able to communicate (read and write) in English fluently.
  • Pass a Physical School Bus Driver Test (DL-704), which includes tuberculosis and drug screening.
  • Be required to submit all three newly obtained clearances with your application: FBI clearance, PA State Criminal Record, and PA Child Abuse Clearance).

Training centers and third-party CDL testers may differ slightly in their training programs. However, you can expect them to have more or less following the same training steps and procedures.

  • Complete a minimum of 35 to 40 hours of training. If you’re capable and motivated, you can complete the training in less time.
  • Spend a minimum of 14 hours in classroom training, as the Pennsylvania State Law requires. You will learn the theories and rules of safe bus driving and operation and interact with schoolchildren of all ages.
  • Spend 10 to 20 hours of hands-on, in-bus training with a qualified instructor. They take the time necessary for you to feel confident in your driving skills and will only test and license you when you think you’re ready.
  • Take a computer test consisting of PA state knowledge and driving tests, including CDL General Knowledge Test, Air Brake Test, Passenger Endorsement Test, and School Bus Endorsement Test.
  • Take the driving test, divided into three sections: Inspection Test, Skills Test, and Driving Test.

Parents of schoolchildren deserve to know that their children are in good hands when they board the bus. For parents of special needs children, this is even more important. That’s why no one barred by the law from operating a school bus should ever drive one.

Keeping the schoolchildren safe is a top priority. Whether school districts hire their drivers or use contractors, it’s the districts’ responsibility to ensure that drivers meet all the legal requirements, complete the proper training, and have background clearances to be on the road and interact with students.

If you believe you have what it takes to be a school bus driver, you should prepare all the requirements and get yourself ready for the classroom, in-bus training, and other tests. Once you’ve completed your training, you’ll now be confident and prepared to apply in any school bus job openings in Pennsylvania.